Join The Pack: Volunteers Pack Meals for Impoverished Families in Honduras
COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (Oct. 10, 2023) – Nearly 300 volunteers assembled Saturday at Advent Lutheran Church to help Food For The Poor (FFTP) pack 62,208 lifesaving MannaPack rice meals for children and families in need in Honduras.
FFTP teamed up with longtime partner Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) to host Join The Pack, a food-packing drive supported by schools, community groups and civic-minded individuals. With lively music playing throughout the day, volunteers donning hair bonnets and gloves scooped, spooned, weighed, sealed, and boxed the meals during three packing sessions.
FFTP President/CEO Ed Raine, who participated in two packing sessions, welcomed the volunteers.
“Thank you so much for joining us today,” Raine said. “This work is lifesaving in the most dramatic way. I sincerely hope you all feel inspired and very proud about giving your time and resources to help those who desperately need our support.”
Over half of the population in Honduras lives in poverty, with more than 48 percent living below the poverty line, facing inadequate food production, high unemployment, and vulnerability to natural disasters. The COVID-19 pandemic and the impact of hurricanes Eta and Iota landing in Honduras within two weeks of each other significantly impaired the nation’s economy in 2020, with many still struggling to recover.
Raine was joined at the event by Linda Coello, President and Founder of CEPUDO, FFTP’s longtime partner in Honduras. Coello, who made a special trip to South Florida to pack meals, thanked the participants for giving up part of their Saturday to support Honduras.
“What you’re doing here today is not just bringing them the MannaPack but also your love and your time,” Coello said. “We are so grateful for you to do this for us and our people. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”
Roberto Contreras, Mayor of San Pedro Sula in Honduras, also took the time to participate in the event. Contreras, who was joined by his wife, Zoila, thanked the volunteers for their effort and shared the impact of their support.
“About 70 percent of the children in public school go to school with no breakfast, no food, so what you’re doing today is packing food and bringing smiles and hope to our children,” he said. “I know you could be at the beach having fun today, but you decided to help our children. On behalf of them, thank you so much.”
MannaPack, a specially formulated rice meal packed with vitamins and essential nutrients, is produced by Feed My Starving Children (FMSC), a Christian nonprofit organization based in Coon Rapids, Minn. In the countries where FFTP serves, the meals are like manna from heaven for children and families who are starving.
Since 2009, FFTP and FMSC have partnered to provide more than 863 million meals for families in need, including more than 79 million sent directly to Honduras. The meals packed on Saturday were enough to feed 170 children one nutritious meal a day for a year.
At the end of each of the three packing sessions, volunteers were invited by FMSC staff to pray over the boxes of meals they had just packed. Volunteers also raised money to help cover the cost of shipping the meals to Honduras.
Children as young as 5 years old participated in Join The Pack, and they understood the importance of the event.
“We wanted to help the people in need,” said Sarah Leiber, an eighth-grader from Advent Middle School and a member of the girls volleyball team. “We want to make a difference.”
The cause resonated with members of Advent Boca Raton, who organized a team to work at one of the packing stations, giving them a hands-on way to support Honduras.
“Join The Pack is a great way for people who can’t travel to Haiti or Honduras or other places to help,” said Advent Ministries Senior Pastor Andy Hagen. “People are willing to write checks and make donations, but that doesn’t get them physically involved. We have a lot of people at our church that like to use their hands and feet to glorify God and serve their neighbors.”
For Aubrey McLean, a native of Guyana who frequently volunteers for FFTP, the event hits incredibly close to home.
“I have been a recipient of this MannaPack rice,” said McLean, who now lives in Coconut Creek. “I fed my family from the MannaPack rice. God’s grace brought me to this country to see how this is done – God brought me full circle.” Event sponsor Jersey Mike’s Subs in Parkland provided mini subs and snacks for Join The Pack. Other sponsors include ResourceOne and MG&A Wealth.
Food For The Poor, one of the largest international relief and development organizations in the nation, does much more than feed millions of hungry children and families living in poverty primarily in 17 countries of Latin America and the Caribbean. This interdenominational Christian ministry provides emergency relief assistance, water, medicine, educational materials, homes, support for vulnerable children, care for the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance. For more information, please visit www.FoodForThePoor.org.